Rhysand smirked. “Perhaps I’ll tell her, perhaps I won’t.”
In a flash of motion too fast for me to detect, Tamlin was on his feet, fangs dangerously close to Rhysand’s face.
“None of that,” Rhysand said, clicking his tongue and lightly shoving Tamlin away with a single hand. “Not with a lady present.” His eyes shifted to my face. “What’s your name, love?”
Giving him my name—and my family name—would lead only to more pain and suffering. He might very well find my family and drag them into Prythian to torment, just to amuse himself. But he could steal my name from my mind if I hesitated for too long. Keeping my mind blank and calm, I blurted the first name that came to mind, a village friend of my sisters’ whom I’d never spoken to and whose face I couldn’t recall. “Clare Beddor.” My voice was nothing more than a gasp.
Rhysand turned back to Tamlin, unfazed by the High Lord’s proximity. “Well, this was entertaining. The most fun I’ve had in ages, actually. I’m looking forward to seeing you three Under the Mountain. I’ll give Amarantha your regards.”
Then Rhysand vanished into nothing—as if he’d stepped through a rip in the world—leaving us alone in horrible, trembling silence.
I lay in bed, watching the pools of moonlight shift on the floor. It was an effort not to dwell on Tamlin’s face as he ordered me and Lucien to leave and shut the door to the dining room. Had I not been so bent on piecing myself together, I might have stayed. Might have even asked Lucien about it—about everything. But, like the coward I was, I bolted to my room, where Alis was waiting with a cup of molten chocolate. It was even more of an effort not to recall the roaring that rattled the chandelier or the cracking of shattering furniture that echoed through the house.
I didn’t go to dinner. I didn’t want to know if there was a dining room to eat in. And I couldn’t bring myself to paint.
The house had been quiet for some time now, but the ripples of Tamlin’s rage echoed through it, reverberating in the wood and stone and glass.
I didn’t want to think about all that Rhysand had said—didn’t want to think about the looming storm of the blight, or Under the Mountain—whatever it was called—and why I might be forced to go there. And Amarantha—at last a name to go with the female presence that stalked their lives. I shuddered each time I considered how deadly she must be to command the High Lords of Prythian. To hold Rhysand’s leash and to make Tamlin beg to keep me hidden from her.
The door creaked, and I jerked upright. Moonlight glimmered on gold, but my heart didn’t ease as Tamlin shut the door and approached my bed. His steps were slow and heavy—and he didn’t speak until he’d taken a seat on the edge of the mattress.
“I’m sorry,” he said. His voice was hoarse and empty.
“It’s fine,” I lied, clenching the sheets in my hands. If I thought too long about it, I could still feel the claw-tipped caresses of Rhysand’s power scraping against my mind.
“It’s not fine,” he growled, and grabbed one of my hands, wrenching my fingers from the sheets. “It’s …” He hung his head, sighing deeply as his hand tightened on mine. “Feyre … I wish …” He shook his head and cleared his throat. “I’m sending you home, Feyre.”
Something inside me splintered. “What?”
“I’m sending you home,” he repeated, and though his words were stronger—louder—they trembled a bit.
“What about the terms of the Treaty—”
“I have taken on your life-debt. Should someone come inquiring after the broken laws, I’ll take responsibility for Andras’s death.”
“But you once said that there was no other loophole. The Suriel said there was no—”
A snarl. “If they have a problem with it, they can tell me.” And wind up in ribbons.
My chest caved in. Leaving—free. “Did I do something wrong—”
He lifted my hand to press it to his lower cheek. He was so invitingly warm. “You did nothing wrong.” He turned his face to kiss my palm. “You were perfect,” he murmured onto my skin, then lowered my hand.
“Then why do I have to go?” I yanked my hand away.
“Because there are … there are people who would hurt you, Feyre. Hurt you because of what you are to me. I thought I would be able to handle them, to shield you from it, but after today … I can’t. So you need to go home—far from here. You’ll be safe there.”
“I can hold my own, and—”
“You can’t,” he said, and his voice wobbled. “Because I can’t.” He seized my face in both hands. “I can’t even protect myself against them, against what’s happening in Prythian.” I felt every word as it passed from his mouth and onto my lips, a rush of hot, frantic air. “Even if we stood against the blight … they would hunt you down—she would find a way to kill you.”
“Amarantha.” He bristled at the name but nodded. “Who is—”
“When you get home,” he cut in, “don’t tell anyone the truth about where you were; let them believe the glamour. Don’t tell them who I am; don’t tell them where you stayed. Her spies will be looking for you.”
“I don’t understand.” I grabbed his forearm and squeezed it tight. “Tell me—”
“You have to go home, Feyre.”
Home. It wasn’t my home—it was Hell. “I want to stay with you,” I whispered, my voice breaking. “Treaty or no treaty, blight or no blight.”
He ran a hand over his face. His fingers contracted when they met with his mask. “I know.”
“So let me—”
“There’s no debate,” he snarled, and I glared at him. “Don’t you understand?” He shot to his feet. “Rhys was the start of it. Do you want to be here when the Attor returns? Do you want to know what kind of creatures the Attor answers to? Things like the Bogge—and worse.”
“Let me help you—”
“No.” He paced before the bed. “Didn’t you read between the lines today?”
I hadn’t, but I lifted my chin and crossed my arms. “So you’re sending me away because I’m useless in a fight?”
“I’m sending you away because it makes me sick thinking about you in their hands!”